Pittsburgh Steelers: An Open Letter to Mike Tomlin About Ben Roethlisberger

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is helped off the ground after he was sacked by the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Mike Tomlin:

This last Monday, your Steelers lost the "Blackout Bowl," 20-3, to the San Francisco 49ers.

Scoring just three points could mean a lot of things.

The 49ers have a very good defense. Your offense wasn't clicking. Ben Roethlisberger wasn't healthy.

Focusing a little more on that last one, Roethlisberger's health has been a conveniently-ignored issue for quite some time during your reign in Pittsburgh.

It's always been rather reasonable to think that ol' Big Ben, all 6'5" of him, could just shoot up a few painkillers before the game and he'd be cured of whatever ailed him.

While Peyton Manning is missing an entire season in Indianapolis due to injury (one that could have been a Super Bowl run, mind you, with Manning at the helm), Roethlisberger trudges on through any injury.

Not to say that you should baby Roethlisberger, but he's only human. Playing with a high ankle sprain in an NFL game, against a defense like the 49ers have, is a recipe for disaster.

The Baltimore Ravens lost on Sunday and if Pittsburgh lost without Roethlisberger playing quarterback, it would have been a wash. Next week, Roethlisberger could "rub a little dirt on it" and play effectively on a rested ankle.

Now, things are different.

Not only did your Steelers lose, but Roethlisberger got even more injured. Taking an inordinate amount of hits, a good number of them from wunderchild pass-rusher Aldon Smith, is bound to rattle even a healthy quarterback.

Roethlisberger was wincing and limping in warmups—the announcers talked at length about how he didn't look at all ready to play ball.

Even after starting the game with Roethlisberger, why not pull him after he threw his first interception? The quarterback looked burdened by his pain and he was having a tough time competing.

What happened Monday night was atrocious on the part of your coaching staff. Your franchise quarterback was left to bleed out on the battlefield that was Candlestick Park on Monday night.

I don't know if you've watched Tyler Palko or Caleb Hanie take snaps this year, but it's not exactly a fun time when you lose your franchise quarterback.

Unlike the Chiefs or Bears, though, you have a playoff spot locked up.

Roethlisberger doesn't have to play another down until the Wild Card round of the playoffs and you'd be in the playoffs.

Home-field advantage is nice, but I'd rather start Roethlisberger on the road than start Dennis Dixon in a home playoff game.

It's not worth it.

The NFL is a bottom-line business and every decision is based on whether or not something is "worth it."

Playing Roethlisberger on Monday wasn't worth it.

I, as well as any keen football fan around the country watching that game on Monday night, saw that Roethlisberger wasn't ready to play NFL football.

Roethlisberger couldn't transfer his weight from one leg to another on medium-to-deep throws and he wasn't able to effectively move around, prolonging plays like he does best.

Now, Roethlisberger is ailing and your team is in the same playoff positioning as they would have been if Roethlisberger hadn't started.

I'm not sure what you were thinking, but please tell me that Big Ben isn't playing against the Rams.

I'm sure your team can beat the Rams without your starting quarterback under center.

In the meantime, let Roethlisberger rest—Lord knows he needs it with the way you've treated his injuries the last few years.

I'm just suggesting you weigh the benefits. Is Roethlisberger worth it?

Sincerely yours,

An NFL observer